Examining the impact of age on literacy achievement among grade 6 primary school pupils in Kenya
International Journal of Educational Development
African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), Kenya
The main objective of this paper is to investigate the optimal age category at which primary school pupils from low income families perform their best in literacy at grade 6 level. Age is a potential learning barrier because of its link to cognitive development as well as its influence on interactions between pupils within classrooms. The sample consisted of 7041 grade 6 pupils, spread in 226 schools across six major urban slums in Kenya. Using descriptive statistics, we examine the distribution of grade 6 pupils' age. We then examine incidences of over-age pupils and incidences of grade repetition across various subgroups of pupils disaggregated by factors such as sex, wealth background, grade repetition, school type and geographical location. Finally, using multilevel techniques, we estimate the pupil age category that has greatest positive impact on literacy achievement at grade 6 after controlling selected pupil and school factors.Irrespective of pupil sex, grade repetition, wealth background, school type or geographical location the results indicate that grade 6 pupils perform their best in literacy when they are in the age category ranging from 10 years 6 months to 11 years 5 months. The results also indicate that, in general, younger pupils were likely to achieve better than older pupil in literacy regardless of the background under consideration. Implications of the findings for policy and practice as well as further research are outlined. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.